Range Wars

Eva Antonia Wilbur-Cruce, La Pistolera of our cover story this week, clearly was a complex figure. Not just the central figure of the romantic ranch life told in her autobiography, A Beautiful, Cruel Country, but also a spirited partisan who apparently met violence with violence, in the spirit of her times.

Writer Leo Banks deftly tells the tale of Eva's hardships, including a term in prison for cattle rustling, and reminds us that our heroes and heroines, being human, are naturally flawed.

In our business, we often point out the clay feet of our leaders, whether on the political, business, sports or other stages. We mostly fail, I think, to write about the virtues of our higher selves.

Each of us aspires to be greater than we are. Each of us laments our personal failings. As we mature, most of us come to know ourselves better--we become more accepting of our shortcomings while recognizing our capacity for rising above those.

It seems to me, having read both parts of Leo Banks' story about Eva, that she well understood herself in later life. She had grown, persevered, survived, even thrived in difficult circumstances. She had not always been heroic, and she certainly was not seen as such by her enemies. That is why, no doubt, she slept with a gun under her pillow even in old age.

Eva apparently did not believe that she owed the world much of an apology. That could have been self-deception, of course. But we all should live so long, and so well, to believe that we owe the world no apology.

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